January 13 – February 18, 2024
Exhibition opening: Friday, January 12, 6 – 8 pm
This January, NCC will exhibit works by Warren MacKenzie in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. Works in the exhibition will explore the NCC collection from MacKenzie’s last years of firing as well as works from several private collections. Many will be on offer for purchase and will fund NCC’s continuation of the Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award.
Launched in 2014, the Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award (WMAA) honors the educational legacy of Warren MacKenzie. Recipients of the award can research new techniques or processes, study with a mentor or in an apprentice program, visit other ceramic art centers or institutions for classes and workshops, collaborate with artists or other media, or travel.
In the nine years since the WMAA’s inception, 18 early career ceramic artists have benefitted from the award. They have gone on to set up vibrant studio practices, teach others, and exhibit their work at world-renowned museums. NCC is very proud to contribute to the success of these artists, and hopes, through the generosity of our community, to continue doing so for many years into the future.
To make a contribution to the WMAA, please visit northernclaycenter.org/support-us/ and add “WMAA” in the comment section, and we’ll designate your donation for this fund, continuing his legacy.
“Warren was in a league of his own; his legacy taught me to discover a sense of dignity and enduring hidden beauty in the everyday actions I have with clay. Though these actions may seem small, they draw on, build, and continue the rich ceramic tradition that Warren was so keen on supporting. Thank you for everything, Warren.”
—Kevin Kao, ceramic artist and first-year recipient of NCC’s Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award
“As MacKenzie’s student, I felt strongly, and still do, that pots should be of use while still embodying a strong sense of aestheticism. Warren’s pots have never pandered to novelty. They have never been outspoken, as he often is, and they are certainly not stylish. They are, however, comfortable and necessary additions to the homes and kitchens of us all. They are spiritual, often transcendental … Warren is fun, laughs easily, loves gestures, and is totally obsessed with making pots—constantly. His message to us way back then was that if you want to make pots, ‘Just go do it.’ It sounded so direct, so simple. It wasn’t.”
—Randy Johnston, former student, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, excerpt from the McKnight Foundation’s 1999 Distinguished Artist Award catalogue
“Before receiving Warren MacKenzie, an American Potter from my mom in 1991, I had no idea a potter could go to college, or have a book, or make an impact beyond his or her community. Without Warren, I may have never gone on to art school, or learned that pots could be political. Without even knowing it, he paid me one of the greatest compliments of my career when I likely needed it most. And, all I can imagine is that every single potter in my generation and beyond, has some kind of similar story about him. Thanks Warren; your impact is immeasurable and your legacy will outlive us all.”
—Forrest Lesch-Middelton, ceramic artist
“Warren was never officially my teacher, but it is impossible to be around the man and not be influenced by his aesthetic, his philosophy, and his whole calm, inspiring aura. When I brought my high school ceramics students to visit Warren, he was generous with his time and his stories, treating us to demonstrations and explanations just as enthusiastically as I would imagine he had done so for his actual students at the U. It was clear he not only loved making pots, he also loved passing on the knowledge of making pots.”
—Tricia Schmidt, artist and K12 educator
“In any culture, the needs of the people control the direction of their self-expression. In earlier times, people were directed by their need to find food and to survive. Later they developed belief systems, turning to religion or magic, concerned with gods and goddesses, myths, political power. Artistic expression became a way to support those beliefs, to oppose enemies, to strengthen the culture. I do not believe it is any different in our times.”
—Warren MacKenzie, NCC’s Regis Master lecture, 1997
A selection of work from the exhibition will be available to purchase directly from our website. If you would like to enquire about work not online, please contact us at 612.339.8007, or firstname.lastname@example.org; we’ll be happy to help!